Research Critique V: Webcam Mediated Communication – JenniCam (1997)

Created by Jennifer Ringley, JenniCam was one of the first web sites that continuously shared ”moments” in a private life, some of these moments include nude theme. Even though the website contains only the most recent images which took every three minutes, those black and white images attracted lots of viewers who seeks sexual arousal in internet while others were interested in the new way of experiencing in internet. As a new use of internet technology in 1996, JennyCam seems opened up a new approach to ”interact” with others who can access internet but interestingly it seems an unshared way of interaction.

Over the net, there was no censorship and everything that happened in her room was broadcast to board audience. Why she exposed her everyday lives on the Internet? And why some viewers are even happy to subscribe her “daily life” and want to keep themselves up-to-date? A quote can be found in “Webcams: The Subversion of Surveillance” by Steve Dixon:

Webcam artists Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio suggest that webcams can be thought of as ”a public service, or a mode of passive advertisement, or it may be a new type of exhibitionism, or self-desciplinary device. The desire to connect to others in real time may be driven by response to the ”loss” of the public realm.” They point out that the term of ”liveness” originated in broadcasting to denote the idea of authenticity and ”a trusted reality,” and the webcams continue and extend this tradition.

Both Diller and Scofidio  believed functions of webcams such as taking public services or implementing passive advertisement could draw much attention to viewers who have desire to connect to others. And the sense of ”liveness” seems acts an important driving force behind this approach.


Some archived stills in JenniCam:

Author: Sheng Tao

An exchange student who likes Singapore

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